The rating is a useful tool for us to evaluate the students. Though it can be difficult to sum up an individual into a number, for statistical reasons, it is helpful for us to have a numerical rating in the system. It is important to back up your rating with your comments, so keep in mind what the scale means, and protect your credibility by only using the higher ratings for the strongest applicants. Over time, we have found the majority of students fall into the 4 category, which is a perfectly pleasant but not unusual interview. We have a handful of 7’s and 6’s, a fair number of 5’s and 3’s and few 2’s and 1’s. In your comments, feel free to add a plus or minus if you feel that this is appropriate. Also, keep in mind that Middlebury is not always every student’s first choice, and this should not alter the rating that you give them.
Overall Rating: 7
Example #1: Susie Brown
Academic Qualities: I have always seen this student's name on the high honors list, student of the month billboard and school award lists. Until I met her, I did not know whether she was just a young woman who studied a lot and did well, or a young woman with a passion for learning. In speaking with her, she seemed to be genuinely interested in her classes and the prospect of entering a new world of learning in college. At one point, she was speaking highly of the incredibly challenging and rigorous math program in our local high school, and I asked her if math was an area of interest she would pursue in college. She indicated that she would probably not be taking any math in the future, but was just impressed with the intellectual challenge and the opportunity to develop a strong background in any subject. She also appears to be a very well read student who has an overall interest in learning.
She is definitely creative in that she made sure to take advantages of all the opportunities a small school could offer, while reaching out to the larger world through work in the inner city through Best’s program and by traveling. She spent three weeks last summer performing throughout Europe with a traveling musical group composed of students from all over the U.S.
She has been able to handle all academic challenges thus far. She expressed some concern, but mostly excitement, about continuing to handle academic challenges when faced with all the new and exciting opportunities that college will offer, from quidditch to organic gardening to community service.
Extracurricular Activities: If I had not seen this student either in a leadership role or receiving leadership awards, I would not have guessed this from speaking to her as she did not in any way "toot her own horn." However, anywhere you go in this town you see and hear about Susie. She is over 6 feet tall, a height she carries with incredible grace and poise, so she visibly stands out in a crowd. But, when I watch the band march, there she is as the drum major. When I attend a play at the schools, there she is in either a leading role or a minor role that she plays to the hilt, with humor. When my daughter participated in Best’s last summer (a community service group that works alongside city youth to perform a wide range of activities to help city residents), Susie was presented with the camp leadership award, an award voted upon by the campers themselves. When I attended a high school orientation session, Susie spoke as a student council member, and also received a National Merit Scholarship finalist award. So, she definitely has held leadership roles!!! I felt fortunate to interview her so as to have an opportunity to meet and get to know her.
In speaking with her, it seems she has participated in any activity this small town has to offer. She has been active on student council, has participated in every play the schools have been on for the past six or seven years, has played sports, plays the flute in the band, is active in a church youth group, is putting together the yearbook with a few other students. She is particularly fond of playing the flute and has played in regional and national groups. She said that she definitely hopes to continue playing the flute in college. She has been extremely involved in Best, both at the summer camp and through the year. She also has worked steadily at places like Subway and CVS which she fits in between studies and all her activities. She is hoping to find a broader range of activities to participate in during her college years. I mentioned to her that I was a Big Sister while at Middlebury and she was excited to hear that the college gets involved in the community itself.
Additional Qualities: I think I have covered these areas above. Frankly, if this student does not get into Middlebury, no one in this town will ever think it is remotely possible to get in there, because she is the best and brightest student to come along in awhile, and has been such a leader!!
Middlebury Potential: Her first choice is Yale; Middlebury is her second choice. She visited the campus and fell in love with it. She mentioned that the tour and related program were very engaging, and that she was most impressed by the school's assurance that you could come to the school and pursue any dream you held. She was also impressed with the strong environmental concern the school showed. She expressed concern about her chances of being accepted, coming from a small town public high school, but seemed very excited about Middlebury. When I talked to her about the wonderful professors I had and the impact the school had on my life choices and my desire to serve others, she became increasingly enthused.
Overall Rating: 7
Admissions Counselor’s comments on this application: Above alum gives a 7 and says she knew of Susie just living in town—you see or hear about her all over. She’s participated in all the town has had to offer, and she’s the best and brightest from here in a long time. It’s a very helpful interview and really puts Susie in her context.
Comments: The above is an example of a good report that justifies the “7” rating. Please note that the report does not necessarily need to be this long.
Overall Rating: 5
Example #5: Stan Simpson
Academic: I truly enjoyed my conversation with Stan. He is a unique, driven, and inspired leader who in so many ways embodies Middlebury and the passion for learning it fosters. When I asked Stan about his academic interests, he spoke about his interest in the environment, place-based learning, our relationship with our surroundings, sustainable living, and the importance of place in how we are defined as individuals and communities. He also exhibited an obvious passion for the global warming debate, and plans to continue to explore innovative ways in which we can reduce our environmental footprint. He spent a semester at the Mountain School last year, and his love for the place and his learning experience there was palpable. He described how academic learning was intimately tied to the place itself and its natural surroundings. He was drawn there by a visit to his brother, and in every word he uttered it was apparent that he believes deeply in and is drawn to tightly knit communities and somehow exuded the importance of community connectedness in his descriptions. In this sense, to me, he seemed so "Middlebury," and I spoke about the tight-knit community I held so dear as a student there.
Stan lives in a solar-powered house off the grid, and his father runs the local College's organic farm. In this sense, he described, he has grown up with a deep-rooted passion for the environment and promoting ways in which we can be better stewards of our Earth and its scarce resources. He seemed very Bill McKibben-esque in his vision of localism, limiting population growth, and self-sustaining communities - and I was impressed by his cerebral bent in mentioning him and even quoting a Robert Frost poem in his description of place and our relationship with it.
Stan is bright, with a seemingly high emotional IQ as well, and a passion for things that Middlebury cares about - so in this sense, I sensed a very good fit.
Extracurricular: When Stan's friend returned from a country near Darfur and described to Will his experiences there and relationships with survivors of the genocide, Stan was deeply impacted by the crimes against humanity that his friend described. He became invested in an attempt to educate people in the states and spread awareness about what is happening in Darfur, with an end goal of energizing and mobilizing people against these crimes to put pressure on legislators here to do something about it.
Stan and his friend are conducting research about Darfur, showing the documentary "Devil Came on Horseback" and presenting at neighboring high schools, encouraging peers to get involved and write letters to the government.
While I was not convinced this was something he plans to continue post-high school, I was impressed by his initiative, going beyond what is expected of him, and the leadership exhibited in his attempts to mobilize his peers to rally around a noble cause.
Additional Qualities: You should know that Stan hopes to defer a year, and has been accepted to a year-long program in India, which practices place-based learning and sustainable living, and which promotes cultural sharing in that he would be studying and living with locals from India. He seemed very excited about the program, and I can see that it fits quite well with his interests. I think this is a significant feather in his cap - that he is willing to go and do something different, and not follow the pack. Takes courage, will, and inspiration.
Middlebury Potential: Stan is an intellectual, it's in his blood, and he's drawn to the prestige of Middlebury, not in any way to attain status, but because he is excited by the prospect of being intellectually challenged and stimulated by being around "lots of bright people." When I asked him if he had to boil it down to three - what are his key values, he mentioned:
- Hard-working in all senses
- Creativity - not being afraid to do something different
- Respect for all organisms (including people :-)
When I asked him what sets him apart from his peers, and why should Middlebury accept him, he said "it's that I am ready to go" - and while that may seem trite, I could see that he truly is somewhat precocious, and truly ready for all of the challenges, intellectually and developmentally, that college brings on.
He is a soccer player, and was in the state finals last year. He is quite the musician, playing the mandolin, sax, and guitar - in the wind ensemble, some pick-up jazz groups, and in a rock band.
My two cents: he's got the quiet, humble drive and the seed of passion for leadership that would serve him well as a Middlebury student and beyond. I could see him flourishing there.
Overall Rating: 5
Admissions Counselor’s comments on this application: Fabulous alum interview. Said Stan was “very ‘Bill McKiben-esque’ in his vision of localism and self-sustaining communities…”
Comments: The above interviewer gave the reader plenty of insight. We get to know Stan through the short anecdotes and really see his personality. All the positives point us toward the five rating, which could actually be higher based on the strength of the prose in the evaluation. This is an excellent example of an interview report.
Overall Rating: 4
Example #4: Abby Adams
Academic: A spoke of her interest in majoring in either economics or psychology. She mentioned that her brother was in a masters program for clinical psychology at Harvard and that he had also encouraged her to apply to liberal arts colleges based on his experiences as an undergraduate in the United States. However, when I asked A to describe her interests in further detail, she was only able to say that more than being interested in these subjects, she was good at them and that that was "the most important thing." She struck me as an individual who is a good student because she has never been anything else, not from any intellectual curiosity that she was able to articulate.
Extracurricular: Abby spoke at length about her commitment to community service--her high school evidently requires a certain number of hours logged in community service in order to graduate, and she exceeded that number by organizing a series of dance performances by her fellow students for cancer hospice patients. However, she was unable to answer any questions about the specific tasks involved in organizing these events or even any of the individuals from the hospices. In general, she avoided direct questions with generalities such as, "It's so important to give back to the community", and "I feel that I can give back anywhere, even in the States". In fact, her refusal to answer direct questions about her activities was disconcerting when compared to the brio with which she described her "commitment" to service.
Additional Qualities: A's parents are the founders of a school for __, and she has taught at the school as a volunteer since she was in the sixth grade. She is currently taking a year off after high school to volunteer at the school full-time.
Middlebury Potential: A made it clear that Middlebury is her top choice (primarily because of the small student-teacher ratio), and she seems excited to become a part of the campus social and academic community. In terms of what A will offer, I was struck by the contradiction between the polish and confidence with which she spoke of her ability to succeed at Middlebury, and her inability (or unwillingness) to speak in any concrete detail about herself and her interests. I'm sure that she is an excellent student and that she would do well at a place like Middlebury; I am less sure that she would necessarily add anything to the campus.
Overall Rating: 4
Comment: A good report that comments on the depth of the student throughout the evaluation. We get enough information from the above report to understand her better, and overall, the interview was just fine, hence the “4” rating.
Overall Rating: 3
Example #2: John Smith
Academic Qualities: Favorite subject is the sciences. Might go into a Pre-Med direction. Taking Accelerated Physics -- a year-long course which he chose to take for the broader range of topics that it offers. Also taking French, Calculus (1st sem) and Statistics (2nd sem.) English, History and his elective is art. No sign of serious intellectual curiosity! Said GPA is 3.3 ... 700's on all SAT's ... Smart guy ... motivation level?
Extracurricular Activities: Captain of his Golf team this year. It's a fall sport with 16 players. They all compete to get in the top 8. Seems like a guy who loves the sport and sees no reason not to get out and play everyday when it's nice ... Which is what he does in the summer too. Skis in the winter and he only started junior year to race and by this year was on Varsity for 4 out of the 5 races. He is also a member of SADD -- Didn't get a sense that he is super-active in the organization.
Additional Qualities: Plays golf in the summer -- Might lifeguard this summer. Took CPR. Skis all winter. Basically, this guy has a nice life (what's not to like?!) and seems to ride on it.
Middlebury Potential: Pleasant interview and a very nice guy. However, just didn't impress me as very motivated. I do think Middlebury is his #1 choice -- He loves the outdoors, skiing, golfing, and the small liberal arts focus. I think Middlebury is his "reach".
Overall Rating: 3
Comment: The above is a report that gives us enough information and comments on the depth of involvement in both academics and extracurriculars. It also does a good job of backing up the 3 rating.
Overall Rating: 2
Example #3: Jimmy Jones
Academic: J seemed like a nice guy, but he does not give off the intellectual curiosity vibe that seems to resonate in most Middlebury students. He's interested in Environmental science and Chinese, but seems to be all over the place. To me he seems as though he'd be a perfect candidate for a gap year. Not particularly mature, not particularly engaging intellectually.
Extracurricular: Enjoys martial arts and reading. No particular interest in being a leader in a group, but he did ask how difficult it would be to start a group on campus. He doesn't strike me as the type of person who would actually follow through on his desire to start a group on campus.
Additional Qualities: J has lived in China and France. Speaks fluent Chinese and French. He spent his junior year on a "School Year Abroad" program in China. I liked his interest in all things international and his drive to get abroad at such a young age. He'd be interested in taking Arabic and Chinese at Middlebury and possibly spending his junior year back in China or at the Arabic school in Egypt.
Middlebury Potential: J places Middlebury as #2 on his list of schools (behind UNC Chapel Hill). Remarkably, I think he'd fade into the student population at Middlebury-- hence his desire to study on a larger campus. He didn't say in particular why he wanted to come to Middlebury, he clearly hasn't done enough research. Couldn't remember if he interviewed at Middlebury, but he did do a tour with a student who was studying at the language schools last summer.
Overall Rating: 2
Comments: The above is another report that gives us insight into the student’s possible impact on campus.
Example of an Interview Report that does not give us much information
Example #6: Steven Middleton
Academic: S. looks forward to the opportunity to experience the intense summer language program in Arabic.
Extracurricular: S is a three sport athlete. He has held internships in the legislative office of Senator Smith.
Additional Qualities: S spent significant time abroad during summers. He spent 8 years growing up in England.
Middlebury Potential: Language is his passion. He wants to live in the Arabic House so he can be immersed in the Arabic experience
Overall rating: 6
Comments: The above report is too cursory to give us any information. We need more to justify the 6 rating, and there is nothing here that is new or different from the Common Application.